In previous lessons we have been practicing activating our schema or prior knowledge. Today I wanted to tap into other types of prior knowledge that might be useful before we begin reading a new book or chapter.
I started by introducing them to the book by showing them the title. The book, Thump, Quack, Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, is what I chose based on the familiarity of the characters and of the authors style. I have already read Click Clack Moo and they should have some prior knowledge from that book to use in the discussion.
I asked them to quietly do a "think and thought," where they take a quiet moment to think of something specific, but it is only a thought, not a comment to be said aloud. I let them have about 30 seconds for this. The thought I let them ponder is all the prior knowledge they can relate to the story I am about to read. In the case of this lesson, I want them to activate their prior knowledge about the characters, setting, and similarities that might occur between the two books.
Authors's style is not something that students think about before reading. This is where I want to focus their attention. I start by asking them to tell me about how the author might make the two books similar. I never give them the direct answer. I draw out the information I am looking for by pointing out the title and asking what do they notice. I thought this would be quick, but I had to prompt them extensively. The magic question came when I asked them, "How did the author title both books?" This got their attention and a student noticed that both the titles included sounds.
To keep them thinking about the author I began to ask more questions. First, I asked about how the author sets up the setting. This one was pretty easy and a good one for my emergent readers to answer. One girl explained, "that it (the story) happened on a farm and that the author would probably continue to write about the farm if she used the same characters. This student has trouble with reading fluently but made a great observation and connection. Her response set up the next question about the author's choice of characters.
This was where students really got into connecting to their prior knowledge. Their favorite character was Farmer Brown and Duck. We discussed how the author would portray Farmer Brown and Duck. The best responses came from students using the words manipulative and mischievous to describe Duck. It was wonderful to hear such rich vocabulary and a welcome shock to hear both of these words used in the discussion.
Now that I am ready to read we talk about what strategies I can use as I read. Students shout out strategies, check for understanding, rereading, and crosschecking. I use their examples and say I will try to remember to use the ones they mentioned. To introduce Monitoring, I tell them that if I get stuck or I think "Uh Oh, that doesn't sound right," I will monitor myself. Monitoring is where I pay attention to my reading and fix it when I need to. This is a fancy way of saying I need to choose a strategy to use.
While reading I want to model getting stuck. I ask my students to help monitor my reading. They are going to give me their "best guess" on which strategy might help me in the situation I am in. I do not do this on every page it would be too much and take too long for the read aloud. I only do it about ever third page.
We then briefly discuss how it went and what they saw me do. I finish with them telling me about what monitoring might look like for them and when they might use it.
In pairs I want to see them practice with a partner. This strategy is a little harder to practice together but important to give time to do so. Students use their own "just right" book to read with their partner. I am asking that they take turns reading. The easiest way to do this might be reading a page and switching.
The key to practice is having students monitor when their reading becomes hard or sounds wrong. I am asking them to find one thing as they read to monitor and then fix. On the board I write, tell your partner when you are monitoring and then explain the strategy you are going to use to fix your reading. If you have time you can give each child a sticky note and have them record the strategy they chose and practiced as a team. Each child should have an example to share this way.